Swiss Ambassador to China, Bernardino Regazzoni. [Photo provided to China.org.cn]
Swiss Ambassador to China Bernardino Regazzoni called for global solidarity and cooperation in battling COVID-19 during a recent interview with China.org.cn.
Switzerland and China have assisted each other in containing the novel coronavirus, a natural pathogen and a common enemy of mankind. Switzerland provided China with assistance and support in various forms during China's most difficult time combating COVID-19. As the outbreak is essentially under control now domestically, China has started to offer assistance in fighting the virus within its capacity to many countries including Switzerland.
"Solidarity goes both ways," noted Regazzoni.
The ambassador explained, "During the peak of the outbreak in China, the Swiss government supported China by providing medical equipment to hospitals in Wuhan and by making financial contributions to the Red Cross and World Health Organization for actions in China."
He continued, "Now we are quite massively buying health equipment on the Chinese market. Besides this, several Chinese public actors or individuals are willing to spontaneously donate equipment to Switzerland."
"Speaking of cooperation, international exchange of best practices about ways to fight the virus is also an important part of the picture," Regazzoni underscored.
The ambassador continued, "Scientific cooperation and, in particular, sharing of knowledge among experts, will undoubtedly accelerate the search for a vaccine and drug to stop the spread of COVID-19."
"China and its population responded effectively to the danger posed by this new virus," Regazzoni commented, adding that Chinese medical personnel worked incredibly hard and he is in admiration of their tireless endeavors.
The ambassador also expressed his strong disapproval of xenophobia in the wake of the outbreak.
"I condemn xenophobia not only against the Chinese people, but against everybody," he said. "This is the stance and the practice of Switzerland, consistently with international instruments."
He stressed, "The world is affected by the virus and we need to work together to defeat it."
"COVID-19 has indeed hit Switzerland hard," Regazzoni said when talking about the challenges the country is now facing.
"Like many other countries, we are working to avoid saturation of our hospital system and especially intensive care beds," the ambassador stated, pointing out that the supply of certain medical products, such as protective face masks, is also a challenge the country is working on.
"Finally, it is important to support the country's economy, especially SMEs and the self-employed, in order to limit the consequences when the recovery takes hold," he added.
Talking about the shortage of medical supplies, Regazzoni explained that the priority is acquiring medical and hospital equipment. "One part of the supplies is produced in Switzerland. An important part has to be purchased abroad. In this respect, the Chinese market is a very important one."
"The embassy is presently very busy in supporting the operations aimed at bringing the necessary medical equipment to Switzerland," stated the ambassador. "On top of that, we try to channel spontaneous offers of donations that come in from many sides and for which I express my gratitude."
Switzerland is one of the worst-hit European countries by the COVID-19 outbreak. As of April 16, Switzerland had reported 26,271 confirmed cases and 1,242 deaths, according to official data.
According to previous media reports, the Swiss government declared an "extraordinary situation" – the highest level of the country's Epidemics Act – on March 16, closing all non-necessary businesses such as restaurants, bars and entertainment facilities, banning mass gatherings, and urging citizens to stay at home as much as possible. The measures will remain in force until at least April 26. The country also introduced additional measures such as tightening its border controls and entry restrictions.